We’ve kept vow to con­trol spend­ing

BUD­GET RE­PORT: As coun­cil tax rises, Tories say they can be proud of record

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - FRONT PAGE - by Nick Cullen

Tories laud ‘fan­tas­tic achieve­ment’ as bud­get is ap­proved

ASH­FORD coun­cil’s Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion said that it had met its prom­ise to bal­ance the bor­ough’s fi­nances as the bud­get for 2007/08 was of­fi­cially ap­proved.

At a meet­ing of the full coun­cil last Thurs­day, coun­cil­lors voted to pass the bud­get, which set the coun­cil’s net spend­ing on its day-to-day run­ning at £13.3m for the year.

In his open­ing speech, Cllr Clokie said: “It is a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment that, af­ter four years and some £4m sav­ings, this coun­cil has main­tained its prom­ise to elec­tors to con­trol ex­pen­di­ture.

“I be­lieve that that is some­thing of which we can be justly proud and for which we should be con­grat­u­lated.”

Cllr Clokie also said that the Gov­ern­ment had not given the bor­ough enough money in grants as the amount was cal­cu­lated by the num­ber of res­i­dents 18 months ago rather than to­day.

But labour’s Cllr Mick Hu­bert said: “With the eter­nal whin­ing and moan­ing of the Con­ser­va­tives here about the Gov­ern­ment that is giv­ing plenty in grants, they are bit­ing the hand that feeds.

“I don’t ac­cept the point that it’s all the Gov­ern­ment’s fault.”

Cllr Rita Hawes, for the Lib Dems, raised con­cerns about the num­ber of out­side agen­cies, such as the Stour Val­ley Project, that the coun­cil is us­ing to pro­vide fund­ing for ser­vices.

She said: “We are be­gin­ning to rely on out­siders, and we have to make sure that it is an equal re­la­tion­ship.”

She also said that the coun­cil’s need to bal­ance the bud­get had led to a pop­u­lar re­cy­cling scheme not be­ing ex­tended.

The scheme, which takes place mostly in the sum­mer months, sees green waste col­lected in some ar­eas of the bor­ough.

It had been pro­posed to ex­tend it to other parts of the dis­trict but Cllr Hawes said that this was re­jected when the bud­get was drawn up.

But Cllr Neil Bell, the port­fo­lio holder for en­vi­ron­ment de­liv­ery, said: “I am hor­ri­fied to hear any­one say that this ad­min­is­tra­tion has made cuts to re­cy­cling when ex­pen­di­ture on it has in­creased nine times over in eight years.”

Cllr Paul Clokie

Cllr Mick Hu­bert

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